Member Rara Avis
Actually, Larry, I rather strongly suspect it was that thread which prompted Tim to start this one.
And his idea is not entirely without merit. One has to remember that the software was designed for discussions, not poetry. That's why the un-bump was disabled in the Discussion forums, because it makes eminent sense to send a thread back to the top when someone replies to it. Active discussions are easy to find, and resolved discussions fall into the background. Poetry, on the other hand, has no resolution, no final word, and a poem from six months ago is as alive and vital as one posted today. Coincidentally enough, poetry on the main site remains chronologically ordered in spite of votes or comments by the visitors, much as Tim is suggesting here. It doesn't seem to keep people from reading.
One might assume the only reason to bump a poem, if it's not because other poems have been resolved, is to keep the "best" poetry easily available. Tim's idea has merit, but ONLY if we agree with his contention that the number of replies is not an indicator of quality. Failing that agreement, the idea becomes literary communism, a way of reducing everyone to the lowest level. Did I just hear Ayn Rand roll over in her grave?
Of course, quality is such a nasty word to try to define. I got an email from someone tonight who insisted their poetry was good because it rhymed, unlike that blank verse stuff others are always posting. Maybe that wasn't Rand I heard, but Shakespeare? Still, for the sake of argument, let's agree for a moment that the poetry that gets the most replies "connects with people" more than poems that get fewer replies. The connection might be because of quality, or a reflection of the audience (Mary Had A Little Lamb is a huge hit in some circles), or because of theme, or maybe even just the result of a popularity contest. We still don't know what we're measuring, but at least we have something to measure. Unfortunately, I can't describe this thing we're measuring as "connectiveness," so I'm going to just stick with "best" for the rest of this post and y'all will know I mean "connects with the most people." Okay?
Given that poetry with a lot of replies is the "best" under our new definition, does it make sense to bump it to the top of the page? In the short term, I think it does. It's essentially little more than a pat on the back, and if we place value on poetry that connects with people, then, yea, it deserves the accolades. I'll admit that if "connectiveness" is something you personally don't value, that position is a little harder to defend. Quick, what's the most watched show on NBS? I can guarantee you I don't watch it. The qualities that make a television show popular are generally not qualities that interest me. In spite of that, though, I have to recognize that a super-popular TV show has realized the goal it set for itself and should, for example, be able to charge more for its advertising time. It deserves the accolades it has won. If I feel strongly enough that the qualities it presents shouldn't be popular, my only real recourse is to more actively support those I think do present more suitable qualities.
In the long term, I'm not so sure bumping accomplishes even that much. It does NOT keep the "best" poetry easily available as we might have hoped, but only keeps the most recent "best" poetry available. Some of our most memorable work languishes in the Archives, mostly forgotten, and certainly not readily found. Perhaps if we had a better way to reward "connectiveness" that might not be true?
Ah, well, it's late and I'm mostly thinking out loud. Maybe I just want to prove I can get the last word on Karen? (Not that I will, I know.) At any rate, I think Tim's idea is worth some thought.